TV column for Saturday, July 22


TONIGHTS MUST-SEE:
Bette Davis marathon, 8 p.m. to 2:45 a.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies.

The splendid “Feud”
mini-series captured the clash of titanic egos, when Davis and Joan
Crawford made “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” Now we can see
“Baby Jane” and two more Davis films.

We're reminded that
this was a gifted actress who had 11 Oscar nominations and two wins.
“All About Eve” (1950) won six Oscars and was nominated for eight
more, including ones for Davis and Anne Baxter. It's at 8 p.m. ET,
followed at 10:30 by “The Star” (1952). At 12:15 a.m. ET is “Baby
Jane” (1962), which drew nominations for Davis, but not Crawford –
fanning their feud some more.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Doubt,” 8 and 9 p.m., CBS.

Crises are piling up
for Sadie (Katherine Heigl). Preparing for her sometimes-lover's
murder trial, she and other staffers listen to tapes of his sister's
therapy sessions. At the same time, she's representing her boss'
daughter (Paula Marshall) in divorce proceedings.

Then there's what
could be the last chance for her mother (Judith Light) to be paroled.
In the first hour, Cameron agrees to represent her; in the second,
Sadie must testify at the parole hearing. Also, Cameron's romance
heats up and Nick has his first case; it's a busy show.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Declassified” season-opener, 9 p.m., CNN (barring
breaking news).

For five seasons,
viewers have been fascinated by “The Americans,” a fictional tale
of Russian spies embedded in American life in the 1980s. Now this
hour looks at the real-life stories.

That launches the
second season of a show hosted by Mike Rogers, the former chairman of
the House Intelligence Committee. It reruns at midnight ET, with
first-season episodes rerunning from 1-4 a.m. Future ones will range
from arm dealers and airline terrorists to a software pirate.

Other choices
include:

“America's
Funniest Home Videos,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a change, ABC has this rerun
at 8, with an hour-long version of “In an Instant” (re-telling
real-life crises) at 9.

“Cold Justice”
season-opener, 8 p.m., Oxygen. Stoking its new image as a
true-crime-story network, Oxygen is bringing back this series, which
had a three-season run elsewhere. It's again produced by Dick Wolf
(“Law & Order”); former prosecutor Kelly Siegler again
re-opens unsolved cases, now with a variety of investigators. The
opener takes her back to a 1991 murder in her native Texas.

“The Jury Speaks”
debut, 9 p.m., Oxygen. Over four nights, we'll hear from people who
were jurors at controversial trials. This opener is the O.J. Simpson
trial; coming are Michael Jackson on Sunday, George Zimmerman on
Monday and Robert Durst on Tuesday.

“Turn,” 9 p.m.,
AMC, rerunning at 10. Working undercover in the British army, Abe is
at the core of two ambitious plots – a rebel one to kidnap Benedict
Arnold and his own to kill Simcoe, the nasty officer who killed Abe's
father. It's a tense hour, propelling us toward a crisis.

“Still
Star-Crossed,” 10 p.m., ABC. The patriarchs – Lord Montague
(Grant Bowler) and Lord Capulet (Anthony Head) -- have an argument
that leads to violence. Also, Rosaline finds herself in danger.

“Orphan Black,”
10 p.m., BBC America. Sarah fights to save her daughter, while
Westmoreland demands more aggressive action on her. Meanwhile, Cosima
has a clue about Westmoreland's identity.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Emma Stone hosts this rerun, with Shawn
Mendes as the music guest.

TV column for Friday, July 21


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Descendants 2,” 8 p.m., ABC, Disney, Freeform, Lifetime, Disney
XD.

A decade ago, Disney
began introducing musicals to a new generation. It's had a dozen
(including three “High School Musical” films), with bright music,
cute stars and, often, Kenny Ortega directing.

Now Ortega again has
Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson and more, as the children of Disney
villains, this time joined by China Anne McClain as the daughter of
the sea witch Ursula. Most have settled into an idyllic kingdom, but
Mal (Cameron) retreats to her rotten roots. There are six new songs,
plus “If Only” and “The Space Between” from the original and
“Kiss the Girl” from “The Little Mermaid.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Big Brother,” 8 p.m., CBS.

OK, now they're just
trying to confuse us. CBS has taught viewers the “Big Brother”
basics – episodes at 9 p.m. Thursdays and 8 p.m. Sundays and
Wednesdays. Now, inexplicably, here's a Friday one.

Well,
semi-explicably. The show's Nielsen ratings have soared, especially
among key age groups. One recent week saw the three episodes finish
No. 1, 2 and 3 for the week in same-day ratings for ages 18-34, 18-49
and 25-54. Now an extra episode borrows the “MacGyver” spot.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Killjoys,” 8 p.m., Syfy.

This continues to be
the science-fiction ideal – a rare mixture of action, warmth and
whimsy. Tonight's hour starts with the sort of bar-room brawl that
would leave even John Wayne impressed; midway, it has a beautifully
written and played truth-serum scene with Dutch and Johnny.

And great characters
fill in the edges. One is Zeph, the auiliary nerd who was added when
Johnny was missing. The other is Pree, the bartender with a warlord
past. That past – and Pree's flamboyant personality – play a big
role when Johnny's future seems tenuous.

Other choices
include:

“Ozark” debut,
any time, Netflix. Sought by a druglord, a money man (Jason Bateman)
flees to the Missouri mountains with his wife (Laura Linney) and
family. That's one of two series debuting today on streaming
services; Amazon has the animated “Niko and the Sword of Light.”

Movies, cable.
Tonight's films range from a 1954 classic (Alfred Hitchcock's “Rear
Window,” 8 p.m. ET) on Turner Classic Movies to the witty “Juno”
(2007) at 7:06 p.m. on Bravo. At 8 p.m.: “Bourne Identity” (2002)
on TNT, “The Birdcage” (1996) on Pop and “Dark Shadows”
(2012) on IFC.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Last week's show was bumped at the last minute for a
“Salvation” rerun. Tonight, barring another late change, the
cunning Dr. Madison Gray (Elizabeth Rohm) is back.

“The Great British
Baking Show,” 9 p.m., PBS. The final six bakers tackle desserts.
And at 10, many PBS stations will rerun a terrific Gershwin Prize
special, with the music of Smokey Robinson.

“Dark Matter,” 9
p.m., Syfy. You've seen the basics before: Semi-strangers meet in a
mansion ... one of them may be a killer ... suddenly, the lights go
out and the doors lock. Now put that on a spaceship, add an errant
android, and you have the start of this strong hour, giving geeky
Five a shot at heroics.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. This reruns the season-opener, with fresh evidence
against Danny. Also, Lori Loughlin plays the wife of a slain cop,
asking Frank to keep her son out of the police force.

“Live From
Comic-Con,” 11 p.m., Syfy. OK, this is clearly Syfy's night –
three new drama hours (capped by “Wynonna Earp” at 10) and then
Zachary Levi hosting from the fantasy-fan gathering.

TV column for Thursday, July 20


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Zoo,” 10 p.m., CBS.

At times, our heroes
were scattered around the globe. Animals had gone wild; crises were
everywhere. But now – for the first time this season – there's a
reason for them all to be together:

The animals have
been calmed, but the “hybrids” -- lab-created creatures – may
overrun New York City. TV shows have always been fond of New York, so
Abraham and Dariela head there to join Oz (James Wolk), Jamie
(Kristen Connolly), Mitch ( Billy Burke) and more.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Hooten and the Lady,” 9 p.m., CW.

Thursdays have
transformed into the epicenter of new, scripted summertime dramas. At
10, Zoo collides with “Night Shift” and “The Mist”; at 9,
there's “Nashville” and this one.

Last week's opener –
very flawed, yet kinda fun – had a classy curator and a rough-edged
adventurer meet in the Amazon. They argued a lot, never admitted they
liked each other, and split. Now, however, he needs help finding an
ancient book in Rome; that will require them to break into the
Sistine Chapel and to wrestle an alligator – neither an easy task.
We'll also meet her well-bred mother (Jane Seymour).

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Growing Up Hip Hop,” 9 p.m, WE, rerunning at 10:30,
midnight, 1:30 a.m. and 3 a.m.

We assumed it would
be easy to be young, rich and attractive; not so, apparently. When an
actor walked out of “Empire,” Romeo Miller had a chance to do
three episodes in the splashy role of Gram; he took the job ...
enraging his dad (Master P) by skipping a big-deal event. Tonight,
they argue.

Then there are the
gorgeous daughters of Rev. Run and nieces of Russell Simmons. Angela
Simmons learned of her fiance's felony past; Vanessa tries to tell
her sister about her new clothing line. There are some contrived
fights (verbal for the women, physical for the men), but the people
remain interesting.

Other choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. This rerun has Sheldon's most startling
decision so far: As he puts it, he feels that he and Amy should
procreate.

“Boy Band,” 8
p.m., ABC. Viewers are voting now, so they need to pay attention.
This opens with all 14 contestants doing “Uptown Girl.” Then
they're split into three new groups, to perform Bon Jovi's “Livin'
on a Prayer,” Cyndi Lauper's “True Colors” and the Rolling
Stones' “Satisfaction.”

“Battle of the
Network Stars,” 9 p.m., ABC. One side has people from primetime
soaps – Donna Mills, Ian Ziering, Gabriele Carteris, Josh Henderson
and Mischa Barton. The other has those from assorted ABC shows –
Anson Williams, Olivia d'Abo, Jason Hervey, Michael Fishman and Shari
Belafonte.

“Nashville,” 9
p.m., CMT, rerunning at 10. As Scarlett's pregnancy faces
complications, Gunnar searches for the mugger. And Deacon, running
his late wife's record label, considers a new singer.

“The Night Shift,”
10 p.m., NBC. Adventures seem to hit these people everywhere: Drew is
on a flight with his mom when passengers get sickened, one-by-one. In
his military duties, TC puts his life in danger. And back home,
others try an obstacle fundraiser in the “American Ninja Warrior”
mode.

“The Mist,” 10
p.m., Spike. Kevin finally manages to reach the hospital with the
others. There, however, he has a painful encounter with his brother.

“Live From
Comic-Con,” 11 p.m., Syfy. After some detours, this channel is
making a fresh try to be the go-to place for sci-fi and fantasy, on
its Web site and on-air. For the next three nights (live on tape), it
will have what it calls “all things nerd-related” from the San
Diego super-gathering. Hosting is Zachary Levi, an expert on such
things and a co-star in “Heroes Reborn” and “Thor: The Dark
World.”

 

TV column for Wednesday, July 19


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Salvation,” 9 p.m., CBS.

Last week's opener
was quick, slick and exciting, as mismatched people learned a meteor
will destroy the world in three months. But can the story grab us
while focusing on bureaucracy and labs.

It does tonight.
There's a government secret that brings fear and death ... a
bureaucrat spying on her boss/lover .... two young writing journalism
and science fiction., one doing science-fiction. One plot element
(swiping uranium) seems wildly unbelievable, but the rest of this is
strong, high-stakes TV.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Modern Family,” 9 and 10 p.m., ABC.

Last Wednesday,
ABC's entire comedy line-up was bumped by the ESPY Awards. Now we can
settle back and catch six straight reruns, led by a double “Modern
Family.”

This show again has
an Emmy nomination for best comedy series. It's been nominated in
each of its eight seasons and won the first five times. Its only
other nod this year is for Ty Burrell, who gets the focus here: In
the first rerun, Phil (Burrell) gets a chance to be on TV; in the
second, it's Father's Day.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Snowfall,” 10 p.m., FX, rerunning at 11:06 p.m. and
1:15 a.m.

Many shows start
with skilled schemers; not here. A CIA man, previously deskbound,
flounders with the early stages of the Contra deal for drugs and arms
... A beefy guy is told he must kill someone, to cover up a previous
heist-gone-wrong ... And at the core is the compelling story of young
Franklin.

His scheme – to
move cocaine from rich whites to neighborhood blacks – seemed
simple at first. Last week, however, he was beaten and robbed of
everything. Now he tries to get it back ... in scenes that unfold
with slow-motion intensity. The result is brutally painful to
Franklin, to others and to viewers.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Fargo” (1996), 8 p.m. ET, IFC; and/or “O
Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000), 8 p.m., CMT.

Amid a cascade of
great movies written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, these are
two of the best. Now they collide in most time zones ... and make a
great double-feature in the Pacific zone.

Both films show the
brothers' knack for capturing characters far from the Hollywood
mainstream. In “Fargo,” it's their native Minnesota, where words
are sparse; in “O, Brother,” it's Mississippi, where an
escaped-convicts tale is beautifully entwined with old-timey music.

Other choices
include:

Movies, all night,
cable. There epics, with the final Harry Potter films (2010, 2011) at
4 and 7:45 p.m. on Freeform ... “Gladiator” (2000) at 7 p.m. on,
oddly, Syfy ... and “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) at 7:30 on
FX. And there are teen films – Francis Coppola's richly emotional
“Outsiders” (1983) at 8 p.m. on Sundance, “Scream” (1996)
horror at 8:30 on Pop and “Descendants” (2015) at 9 p.m. on
Disney,

“Little Big Shots:
Forever Young,” 8 p.m., NBC. Steve Harvey ranges from an
82-year-old acrobat and hand- balancer to a 92-year-old yodeler.

“Speechless,”
8:30, ABC. In a rerun, Maya and Jimmy need their daughter's help to
get on the good side of an insurance agent.

“The Carmichael
Show,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC. Cynthia (Loretta Devine) is key to
both episodes. In the first, she views her parents' troubles and
ponders her own marriage. Then, in a rerun, she sees her friend's
husband with someone else, sparking a discussion about cheating.

“This Is Us,” 10
p.m., NBC. Now that the show has eight Emmy nominations (including
best drama), catch a terrific rerun involving the family cabin. Some
great scenes link Kevin, his theater co-star (Janet Montgomery) and
their playwright (Milana Vayntrub, from all those cell-phone
commercials).

“Queen Sugar,”
10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. There's a setback for the mill's
opening celebration.

TV column for Tuesday, July 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Bold Type,” 9:01 p.m., Freeform, rerunning at 10:02.

There are so many
good things about the show that we'll excuse occasional
exaggerations. Set them aside and you have three interesting young
women at a Cosmopolitan-type magazine.

Jane (Katie Stevens,
formerly of “American Idol”) wants to write serious things ...
but drew praise for a sex narrative. Kat (Aisha Dee) is a tech type,
barraged tonight by Internet trolls. Sutton (Meghann Fahy) is a
skilled assistant – which makes it hard to move on. Avoiding
cliches, “Bold” gives them a wise boss (Melora Hardin) and
flawed-but-worthy guys. Amid lots of flash, there's some solid drama.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Weekend in Havana,” 8 p.m., PBS.

Geoffrey Baer is a
Chicago guy who had the usual images of Cuba – old cars, crumbling
buildings, tattered economy. He did find all of that, but this
quick-paced hour also offers surprises.

A former factory now
has a tangle of bars, galleries and performance spaces, drawing
fashionable young people. Homes become mini-restaurants, with
personal touches. Talented dancers (from flamenco to showgirls) and
jazz musicians emerge from a government that's big on arts education.
It's a bright, upbeat hour that even includes a visit to Ernest
Hemingway's cottage.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Shooter” season-opener, 10 p.m., USA, rerunning at 1:01 a.m.

The first season's
crisis has been settled now; Bob Lee Swagger (Ryan Phillippe) is free
to go back to his Texas spread with his wife and daughter ...
briefly. There's a fierce gun battle at the start of this hour (in a
flash-forward), repeated in the middle. That sets the stakes for this
season.

Now Swagger must
protect his old unit from a master marksman, while his ally (FBI
agent Nadine Memphis) is confined to desk duty. “Shooter” offers
likable people in a high-stakes, high-energy story.

Other choices
include:

“Shooter”
(2007), 5-8 p.m., USA. The original film covers some of the same turf
as the first year of the series. Mark Wahlberg (who produces the
series) plays Swagger, forced into one-man action.

“America's Got
Talent” and “World of Dance,” 8 and 10 p.m., NBC. Both shows
start new rounds. On “Talent,” the auditions are over and judges
make new cuts. On “Dance,” the duels have ended and judges
(joined by ballerina Misty Copeland) start trimming to two acts in
each category.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, Laura San Giacomo plays a doctor who must break her
confidentiality after a Marine sergeant's fatal fall.

“The Fosters,” 8
p.m., Freeform. The show's best and worst characters collide early
and often tonight. The best is Callie (Maia Mitchell), a deep
portrait of a teen in crisis; the worst is Stef (Teri Polo), the cop
who's her adoptive mother – and often becomes terribly one-note.
Fresh from Callie barely escaping a sex-trafficker, changes are
coming. Alongside that are big moments for Brandon and Jesus ... and
some fresh twists, with new neighbors arriving.

“Black-ish,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., ABC. Both reruns focus on Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross).
In the first, she tries to buy a black doll. In the second, her
reality-star sister (Rashida Jones) visits.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. Tom Arnold plays a hacker whose group tends
to expose corruption among New Orleans' prominent people. Now
thousands of classified files have been stolen.

“Being Mary Jane”
season-opener, 10 p.m., BET, rerunning at 11. Distrusting him, Mary
Jane tries to stay clear of Justin ... which undermines her work as
co-anchor.